Monday, April 16, 2007

Bringing Einstein back down to earth: Walter Isaacson delves into the private life of a genius

[13 April 13 2007- Houston Chronicle - Book Review by Steve Weinberg of "EINSTEIN: His Life and Universe," by Walter Isaacson] Words like "relativity" and "quantum theory" are part of the everyday lexicon, but for nonscientists they can be baffling as well as familiar. That means a biography of Albert Einstein may seem daunting to many readers. Walter Isaacson gives you one that isn't. Isaacson is a journalist, not a scientist. He undertook the challenge of explaining Einstein's physics for a nonspecialist readership because it is challenging. Tautology intended. ... As Isaacson recounts the growth and maturity of a genius, he fills the biography with psychological insights that grow organically from his intense study of the man. He tells us, for example, that "as a young student [Einstein] never did well with rote learning. And later, as a theorist, his success came not from the brute strength of his mental processing power but from his imagination and creativity. He could construct complex equations, but, more important, he knew that math was the language nature uses to describe her wonders." More

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